Click to hear: “Teenager”
Way back in the Dark Ages, around 1987, my buddy Mike and I were at the corporate record store in the mall when a cassette caught our attention. It was a six-song EP, titled Yesterday Started Tomorrow, by a band named Angry Samoans. We liked it alright, but the real revelation arrived when Yesterday led us to pick up Back from Samoa, the Samoans’ seminal 1982 album. That tape fundamentally changed our relationship with punk rock — it made it music we wanted to play.
Living Legends Mixtape, byLunch Cult, a trio of young guys not long out of high school, fondly reminds me of the Samoans-inspired stuff Mike and I made in his basement back then — loose, exuberant, humorous and occasionally offensive songs recorded as much for our own amusement as anyone else’s.
Mixtape is a mix of studio tracks and live recordings made before small, enthusiastic audiences at venues like somebody’s house on Poland Street. It mixes instrumentals with songs featuring the raw vocal talents of Luke MacDonald and Jake Lichter (son of local jazz promoter and poet Paul Lichter, former proprietor of Café No and quite possibly the hippest cat in town). Lichter and MacDonald also switch off drum and guitar duties, while Nick Thompson-Brown handles the bass and yells shit as needed.
With the exception of the aimless “Don Quixote,” all the instrumentals rock. Lunch Cult has some serious musical chops; they just don’t use them seriously. But the real silliness shows up in songs like the ragged and catchy “Tempting Women of the Corn,” the poppy “On Time,” and the closer, “Pseudoephedrine,” in which the fellas devise a clever gag I’d not heard before: the concept of a bomb planted in the song that the singer tries, and fails, to defuse.
Then there’s the aptly named “Teenager,” an instant classic that manages to simultaneously skewer and embody the spirit of that age. “Well Jesus was a teenager once / He turned water into wine and he got all fucked up / He said, ‘Man, Joseph, you’re not my real dad / I’m the son of God and I’m superbad!’”
The terms the kids use these days for this style of music include “garbage rock,” “blow-fi” and “avant tard.” Lunch Cult is better than those labels imply, and by the time you read this, they’ve probably gotten twice as good. Let’s hope they don’t grow up too fast.
— Chris Busby